News / Europe

Britain Prepares for Visit by Pope Benedict XVI

Multimedia

Audio
Henry Ridgwell

Pope Benedict XVI will arrive Thursday in Britain for a four-day visit.  It is only the second papal visit to the country since the Reformation and the first official state visit.

Claz Gomez taps away eagerly at the keyboard of her computer.  She is hugely excited about the pope's visit to Britain and has set up a papal visit blog that has so many hits the Catholic Church has brought her on board to help promote Pope Benedict's tour.

"My family would say I have been completely obsessed I think!  My family would say I am obsessed," said Gomez.  "Over the past week and a half I have been trying to get articles out once a day.  For example I have a blog post on the 'Pilgrim Pack'.  The young people of the diocese have received a lovely trendy red T-shirt, the young pilgrim's booklet, and this is England so we might just need the papal visit poncho!"

Grainne McGuire also is busy preparing for the pope's visit, but she has very different feelings.  In a small London apartment, she and a dozen other young people are making placards and imitation miters to take on the planned demonstrations against the visit, which thousands of people are expected to join.

"We are making these hats and we are going to be wearing them with slogans like 'God loves children, women and gays', 'Shame on You, You Bring Shame on Catholics', and 'Pope Benedict, Where is the Love?'  There are various slogans; we are going to be wearing them on our march with different banners with the reasons why we are protesting the visit," said McGuire.

These opposing views reflect the divisions that the visit is causing throughout society.  

The pope has thanked Britain in advance for the effort involved.  "I am very much looking forward to my visit to the United Kingdom, and I send heartfelt greetings to all the people of Great Britain.  I am aware that a vast amount of work has gone into the preparations for the visit."

The cost of the preparations, $19 million, excluding security, is just one of the objections raised by opponents.  Benedict's trip is a full state visit, partly funded by the British taxpayer, a privilege that has angered protesters, such as those attending this town-hall debate on the issue.

Under the umbrella group 'Protest the Pope,' they plan to hold a series of demonstrations during the visit.  Human-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell is at the forefront of the protests.  "We do not fund visits by the Grand Mufti of Mecca or the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, so why should the pope's visit get this special privileged financial support?  In particular we are concerned about the pope's role in the cover-up of child abuse," said Tatchell.

The issue of child abuse within the Catholic Church has resurfaced with further allegations coming to light, prompting accusations of a cover-up.  The pope's visit to Britain has rekindled anger among victims and campaigners who believe the Church has not done enough to address the issue.

Despite the controversy, Catholics from across Britain, and even many overseas visitors, are gearing themselves up for the opportunity to see the pope.  

Benedict will celebrate Mass in Westminster Cathedral in central London before addressing 2,500 young people on the square outside.  The Bishop here says it is right that the pope is being afforded a full state visit.

"The pope may not be a king of a great nation, but he is the spiritual leader of 1 in 5 people on the planet, and he is going to do a considerable amount of good while he is here I am sure, and it is quite right for our nation to fund that," said the Bishop at Westminster Cathedral.

Pope Benedict has a tightly-packed schedule in Britain; he will celebrate two open-air Masses in Scotland and London, he will meet Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister David Cameron, and he will conduct the beatification of a Cardinal.

For Gomez and tens of thousands of other pilgrims, it will be a unique opportunity to see and hear from the figurehead of their faith.  McGuire and thousands of other protesters also will be following the pope every step of the way to make their objections to the visit loud and clear.

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid